The first single/video release, “Rat Race”, really set the bar high for this album. From a band that were always just a bit classier than the average “hair metal” band (come on, can you imagine Brett Michaels composing a ballet like Mr Winger has?) “Better Days Comin'” offers an exciting mixture of the melodic and commercial approach of the first two albums (“Winger” and “In the Heart of the Young”), which catapulted Winger to stardom, with the more technical and almost progressive feel of such albums as “Pull” or “IV”. This is the logical follow up to the critically acclaimed “Karma” which was hailed as one of the band’s highlight releases ever.
Midnight Driver Of A Love Machine – sexy, sassy and hard rocking that starts with a recording of a car starting … a great set up to a perfect opening. Reb Beach gets to shred a bit and the vocal harmonies blend with the double kick drum rhythm that powers the track in order to set up a feeling of the adrenaline rush of an exciting night out on the razzle!
Queen Babylon – a fantastically processed guitar riff introduces us to an Eastern influenced hook. Then a bump and grind, sleazy blues hard rocking song. “God save the queen …” implores Kip – how very, loyal?
Rat Race – first single and probably the most known of the songs here. Allowing the band to demonstrate their talents to bring us another driving, thrusting tune that bears much more resemblance to Maiden than Jovi!
Better Days Comin’ – title track and a much more refined entity. With a groove that is clearly proving a ton of roll to go alongside the rock. This reminds me of something that Glenn Hughes would put out, with a very funky chorus …. and I mean funky (slap bass, the lot!)
Tin Soldier – a piano driven intro feeds into synth and bass lines, finally allowing drums and guitar to bring us to the vocal. Very “symphonic” in structure. Loads of light and shade musically and lyrically. The arrangement is very proggy (almost Dream Theatre-like)
Ever Wonder – synth to start and finally the band slow it down. Kip has always had a great ballad voice and this proves it. Much more mature sonically than “Miles Away” (stil a favourite of mine), acoustic guitar mixes with the keyboard and bass line for most of song, with some nice crunchy guitar kicking in during the chorus, not to over power rather to build the soundscape more fully.
So Long China – back to the up-tempo feel, great lyrics and an feel that reminds me of “Synchronicity II” – structure wise plus the drum sound. That’s not something your average hair metal band could produce at any stage of their career.
Storm In Me – more in the almost Eastern vein. Do I detect dollops of a Led Zeppelin?
Be Who You Are, Now – a second slow track. More about philosophy than the typical love song. Harmonies that bring to mind a famous band from Liverpool (no, I do not mean Gerry and the Pacemakers!) and together these influences create a song that is complex and beautiful whilst retaining those elements of hard rock that are vital to my ears – top guitar parts
Out Of This World – cool song to finish, with other worldly sound effects leading to an almost grunge sounding riff – and another Beatles reference. Slower and moody, but none of the sugar coated balladry you might expect. Heavy lyrical themes nand a fabulously strong chorus.
“Better Days Comin’” is an amazing new record where the four band members: Kip Winger (ex Alice Cooper), Reb Beach (Whitesnake), Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs, Steve Morse) and John Roth (Starship, Giant) shine with an incredible instrumental and vocal prowess at the service of superb Hard Rock songs but with an uncanny sense of melody. Kip and the boys are on fire here – mature and proud of what they can do blending melody, passion and positive energy. Taking their combined experience, talents and influences to produce possibly the best album of their career – which is quite some statement!
“Better Days Comin'” is released on 18th April via Frontiers Records.